December 7th will mark the first time since 2006 and the 11th time that the Cats and Eastern Kentucky Colonels will play each other. In fact, the last time the two schools played each other was in Jeff Neubuar‘s first season as the head coach of the Colonels. Travis Ford had recently left EKU for UMass to begin his career with the Minutemen before eventually leaving for Oklahoma State after the 2007-08 season.
However, the Colonels that will be playing the Cats this upcoming season will not be the same Colonels that almost took down Kansas in the opening round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Colonels will lose Glenn Cosey, Marcus Lewis and Tarius Johnson due to graduation. The combination of losing Cosey, Lewis and Johnson will take away a major part of the Colonel’s scoring attack. However, teams should not sleep on EKU, because they will be returning the big man, Eric Stutz and combo guard Corey Walden, whom both helped add offensive and defensive depth to the team.
The combination of Stutz and Walden will likely be a focus going into the early December match-up, but the inevitable Kentucky/UMass connection storyline will likely be brought up at least once. The fact that Travis Ford played and graduated from Kentucky, then coached at UMass after leaving the Colonels will likely be mentioned. Also, the fact that Coach Cal used to coach at UMass will add another element to the storyline.
However, when you look at the numbers, no matter how close a couple of the games were, the Cats still lead the series 10-0 against the Colonels. Most notably was in 2005 when the Cats escaped EKU 72-64 in the NCAA tournament after the Colonels cut the lead down to five in the final four minutes of the game. Seniors Chuck Hays and Kelenna Azubuike lead the team in scoring with 16 points each.
According in a statement on UKathletics.com, the television network and air time will be announced at a later date. However, the Cats have also announced that they will play Kansas (Nov. 18 • Champions Classic), Texas (Dec. 5 • Big XII Challenge) and UCLA (Dec. 20 • CBS Sports Classic).